This is Just the Way I Am
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in
vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God
which was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV
Do you know an exceptionally critical person? They consistently fabricate something unpleasant to say, regardless of the circumstances. Unaware of their negativity, they live with little happiness and tranquility, wandering aimlessly through life with a “glass half-empty” mindset.
What is the reason for this pessimism? Why can’t negative individuals see beyond specks of imperfection and emphasize the positive aspects of existence?
Typically, this defeatist attitude stems from a negative self-image. People who are overly critical and pessimistic will frequently project their bad traits and identical sentiments about themselves onto others. Unfortunately, this mentality of inadequacy permeates their spiritual life, impeding the development of good
connections with God by causing people to perceive Him falsely.
Paul sets the standard for self-image in 1 Corinthians when he humbly claims, “I am the least of the apostles and do not deserve the title of apostle because I
persecuted God’s church. By the grace of God, though, I am how I am ” (15:9-10). Paul recognizes that he is a sinner on the one hand, yet simultaneously
realizes that God’s grace makes him a new creation forgiven and conforming with the image of Christ.
What are the characteristics of a healthy sense of self? A person with a positive self-image is aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities is open and honest, and can confidently say, “I love you.” They can express their views without fear of criticism or retribution. Most importantly, they accept themselves, their scars, blemishes, and all because God initially accepted them (1 John 4:19).
Conversely, someone with a poor self-image lacks trust in themselves or others, questions their ability, suffers from a “persecution complex” (e.g., “Everyone is after me! “), is afraid to be vulnerable, and always hides their weaknesses behind a “mask.” Such a person typically believes that God assesses their worth based on how good they are which results in a “workaholic” attitude.
Now that we know the various external manifestations of self-image, both negative and positive. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an unhealthy perspective of ourselves?
Sin is the first item on the list. Frequently, sin causes us to slip into a “guilt trap.” We examine our weaknesses and ask, “How can God assist me with this sin throughout my life?” Guilt initiates a self-deterioration process that will gradually deteriorate the mind over the long haul.
The “over-achievement trap” is an additional cause of a poor self-image. This individual believes he must prove his worth to others and God by utilizing works. He feels that to be worthy to God; he must achieve something “remarkable.” When and if he accomplishes this milestone, he continually raises the bar till he eventually burns out.
Our hesitation in accepting constructive criticism impedes our mobility toward a pleasant sense of self. A man with a divine view of himself chooses whether he desires God’s approval or the world’s. From there, he selects to live for the Lord and settles the matter. As long as we live, someone will always criticize us. We cannot be everything to everyone (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Lastly, one of the most detrimental reasons for low self-esteem is a wrong interpretation of scripture. In Philippians 2, Paul exhorts believers to “die to self.” This does not mean we should no longer value or have worth inside ourselves. This scripture text is frequently misinterpreted, making some Christians consider themselves as having no value.
Philippians 2 simply instructs us to consider ourselves from God’s perspective. Paul urges Christians not to use others as stepping stones for their advantage but simultaneously attempt to demonstrate Christ’s humility. This is one instance of how the incorrect interpretation of scripture might result in a low self-image.
So how do we establish a positive self-image, abandon negative selfperceptions, and rid ourselves of the excess baggage that burdens us?
Overcoming a poor self-image requires the following:
- Salvation: Begin by accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and the finished work of the cross. Without it, we will never see ourselves accurately because, from an eternal perspective, we have nothing apart from Christ.
- Saturating yourself with scripture: The more you study God’s Word, the more it will permeate your mind, and the more you will fill your thoughts with God’s perspective on that objective. You are deserving of unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
- Obtaining pardon: Ask the Lord for forgiveness for specific transgressions you have kept within your heart (John 3:16).
- To stop bargaining with God: Do not try to trade good deeds for God’s favor or approval. You can do nothing to make Him love you more or less than He already does, regardless of your actions. His love for you is already flawless; He cannot love you any more than He already does (Galatians 3:13-14).
- Extending yourself: The happiest guy goes with his heart wide open. Permit others to enter your life; share your thoughts and emotions with those surrounding you (Proverbs 20:7).
- Not dwelling on the past: Concentrate on what God is doing in your life now rather than yesterday’s shortcomings. Be in the current moment, and God should direct your steps into the future (Isaiah 65:17). Until you build a positive self-image, you will never realize the good plans the Lord has for your life.
Take some time to think about who you are in Christ. Find two supporting scriptures and write them down. Make a point to meditate on these throughout the week.
Lord God, help me see myself through the lens of Your love. Let me continue to acknowledge the grace that’s on my life. May I continue growing in my faith and transforming into Christ’s likeness. May everything I do bring honor and credit to You. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
Upcoming Connect 21 Events
- Prayer 201 (Jan 25th @ 7 pm via Zoom)
- Saturday Morning Prayer (Jan 28th @ 9 am at Latimer Hall – The Way UMC)
- Sunday Morning Worship ( Jan 29th @ 10 am at River Ridge High School)